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Listener 4743: Season’s Greetings by Lionheart

Posted by vaganslistener on 13 Jan 2023

The “Christmas Listener” (though the series doesn’t go overboard with such specials…), and good to see Lionheart in action again. And what a raft of clue-types! 1: factual error. 2: forgotten line(s). 3: extra word. 4: wrong clue number. 5: answer not in standard dictionaries. Being a bit dim, and not at all a follower of even good comedy shows like anything involving Denis Norden, I only realised towards the end of the solve, when the thematic penny dropped, that the types were also (more or less) thematic, all being the sort of bloopers that might lead to an out-take that Denis would then gather up for “It’ll Be Alright On The Night”. The message gave HAPPY CHRISTMAS DENIS NORDEN, which was the printable part of RIK MAYALL’s response when such a blooper passed his lips.

RIK MAYALL was there in plain sight on the bottom row of the grid, and after a moment of head-scratching I found three pairs of words there too (OKAY/DARK; SOSO/DEVIL; DECENT/SORROW), in each case a word for ALRIGHT on (top of) one for NIGHT. So everything came together remarkably neatly, and just in time to put it away before church and family festivities began.

The clues were fair, though it took a while to get speed up as I juggled the different types (not being as good as Shirley at highlighters and columns). The trickiest were probably the non-dictionary words, where software was not very helpful, and crossing letters were needed to confirm AVE JOE for instance at 9d (“Typical man expresses rage in prayer to Mary’s partner” (6, two words); and I-SHARK at 30d (“Is boat to capture 200 fish from Apple?” (6) is I suppose a fanciful creation), but given the theme and the holidays I took these as fun of the fair not unfair.

So cheers to Lionheart, thanks for a fun puzzle, and compliments of the season. Call in again soon.


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Season’s Greetings by Lionheart

Posted by shirleycurran on 13 Jan 2023

I see from Dave Hennings’ crossword database that this is Lionheart’s third Listener crossword and that the last one appeared at Christmas last year so we expect something seasonal – well, the title says that doesn’t it? We we’re expecting the editors to give us something relatively gentle for Christmas Eve but the first three lines of the preamble make us take a deep breath. Five different types of mistake and one in every clue!

I see from Dave Hennings’ crossword database that this is Lionheart’s third Listener crossword and that the last one appeared at Christmas last year so we expect something seasonal – well, the title says that doesn’t it? We were expecting the editors to give us something relatively gentle for Christmas Eve but the first three lines of the preamble make us take a deep breath. Five different types of mistake and one in every clue!

I work out how 11, 12 13,… up to …53, 54, 55 are going to spell out the letters A B C … … X Y Z, so it is clearly going to be important to identify the type of mistake in each clue and keep a record of them in pairs. Of course, I colour-code it and it’s almost like a Christmas tree when we finish.

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Solving is steady, though we are somewhat bemused by the solutions that we decide are not in standard dictionaries: ‘Typical man expresses rage in prayer to Mary’s partner (6, two words)’ We go for AVE JOE (average, less rage, and Joe for Joseph). We rather like the fish from Apple – I-SHARK. However, EALER, LEONEIST and REKILT seem to be pushing the boundaries, but we appreciate the MOOER (Noisy cow disturbed Romeo (5)).

We have more trouble with the four solutions that have to have ‘forgotten line(s)’ though when I work backwards from the message that emerges HAPPY CHRISTMAS DENIS NORDEN it is clear which they are and we add that line to ‘mousse’ giving ‘mousseline’, to ‘cabal’ giving ‘caballine’. to ‘on’ giving ‘on-line’ and to ‘SA’ giving ‘saline’.

Full grid and we spot RIK MAYALL at the foot of our grid. Having spent most of my life overseas, I haven’t much knowledge of either RIK MAYALL or DENIS NORDEN but fortunately I can. feed the two names into Google and grope my way towards the theme. ‘It’s all right on the night’, and, of course, I can find four cryptic examples of that in the grid.

Impressive and challenging. Many thanks to Lionheart.

Did I forget something? Of course, the alcohol. His clues were swimming in it weren’t they! We took the heading off the TOKAYS (whites, not reds!) giving us OKAYS in the third clue, then there was ‘spilt real ale, losing a litre’ and ‘flavoured wine’ in the clue that followed it, with ‘One abandoning another case in the van’. Cheers, Lionheart!

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Listener No 4743: Season’s Greetings by Lionheart

Posted by Dave Hennings on 13 Jan 2023

This was only the third Lionheart Listener, his previous being a year ago (no. 4691, Something in Common). That had “one song to the tune of another” as its theme, which is a game from I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, the radio game show that has been going since 1972. This week’s preamble made me wonder whether Lionheart had opened a pre-Christmas bottle of Malbec a bit too soon!

It stated that every clue contained one of five mistakes, including “answer not in standard dictionaries”. See what I mean about Lionheart being on the sauce! In fact, it reminded me of one of my early Listener mistakes — no. 4231, Vera by Elfman back in 2013. That had clues supposedly from three contributors, one who always told the truth, one who always lied, and one who alternated. Thus half the clues had a mistake in them (as did lots of entries).

Anyway, back to Lionheart and his mistakes: factual errors, forgotten line(s), extra words, wrong number, and bizarre entries. Apart from anything else, these would lead to a novel coding where the pairs of mistake would enable a message to be revealed.

Luckily, the enumeration in brackets was for the clue answer rather than its associated entry. In many cases it was therefore easy to spot these clue types. I hoped that the other clues would give a framework to the grid that would enable these to be eventually slotted in their correct positions. Thus, my second clue solved — 16ac Fish (not bass) in stream (4) — gave RILL [BRILL – B] which had an entry length of (9). That had come after 13ac Approves of heading off Reds (5), which had a factual error — Reds for Whites. This was turning out to be fun.

All in all, the wrong number clues predominated with 18, thanks to all the Ns, Ps and Ss in the final message (of which more later). Next came factual errors and extra words with 11 each, bizarre answers with 6, and forgotten line(s) 4.

The bizarre answers (my way of descibing “answers not in standard dictionaries”) were REKILT, LEONEIST (fan of the spaghetti western director, Sergio), EALER (Ealing inhabitant!), AVE JOE, I-SHARK (a fish from Apple) and MOOER. The forgotten lines were in 5ac where mousse should have been mousseline, 28ac with cabal for caballine, 12dn with SA for saline, and 39ac, which I think needed Put on the becoming Put on the line.

Eventually, the coded message gave Happy Christmas Denis Norden. I wasn’t really surprised that this had escaped the editors of the ODQ. A bit of googling, however, soon revealed the source of the quotation, and there he was in the bottom line. It transpires that when RIK MAYALL and Ade Edmondson fluffed lines when recording their off-the-wall TV series, Bottom, Mayall would turn to the camera and say the above (often with swear words inserted). I think I got the cryptic representations correct, with OKAY/DARK, SO SO/ EVIL and DECENT/SORROW.

Thanks for a bit of festive fun, Lionheart.

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Listener No 4742: Short Seats by Yorick

Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 Jan 2023

It had been over three years since Yorick’s last Listener, no 4581 Transformers, which had some entries being entered right to left and others upside down. This week no such convolutions, but an unspecified number of clashes. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I hate clashes! The sentence in the preamble which talked about internal thematic letters had me additionally worried as to its meaning. Oh, and some entries fall off the edge of the grid.

As expected, I found this one tough. When making notes for a puzzle, I have occasionally written “a lot of geographical places in these clues”. Of course, I made no such comment today, although I’m not sure it would have helped me with the endgame, of which more later.

Did I mention that I hate clashes?! What really annoys me is when an entry provides only one of the clashing letters rather than two or more. After years of Listener solving, I have learnt that all this just makes a puzzle more challenging, and who can object to that? [Quiet at the back. Ed.]

I frequently mark my favourite clues with one or two ticks. In reviewing my notes here, I see that I’ve marked quite a few with exclamation marks which mean they have somewhat tricky wordplay. Either that or “He’s having a laugh!”

  • 2s Recalling zone ceded by infantryman to ruler, excluding Troy (7): EVOKING [EVZONE – ZONE + TO KING – T]
  • 29s Including N, any number of sour fruits except the top 100 (6): NITRIC [N + CITRIC – first C; Including N referring to nitrogen]
  • 33s Take after Oersted, displacing reduced control in random force (6): COERCE [CHANCE with (OE + R) for HAN(d)]
  • 37w Hooked after Tina’s extracted, and cut in a twinkling (5): ADUNC [(AND CUT IN A – TINA)*]

One even had two exclamation marks: 21n A day leaving party cut 34 in Taiwan? (5): ADUKI [A + D + UKI(p); 34 being legume]; I can think of another way of describing UKIP!

All in all, one tough set of cookies.

What the clashes had in common eluded me initially as I (for some topical reason) thought they might be World Cup final locations or some such sporting cities. Luckily, it didn’t take long for the penny to drop as we were just dealing capital cities — and not just any old capital cities, but 4-letter ones. Moreover they were fairly well geographically located in the grid as they would be in an atlas.

It didn’t require a huge leap to guess that the single letter that needed to replace each capital was that which enabled the 3-letter country codes to be read left to right.

But what about those bizarre internal thematic letters? I won’t tell you how long I wondered what Yorick was getting at! Actually, it wasn’t more than about 30 minutes, but seemed longer. Back to that comment about not noting all the words with capital letters — place names and other such. The internal bit just told us to ignore the initial capital letter of each non-clashing clue and pick the other capital letters. Thus we had Three-letter country codes. Well I had those identified already, thanks. And I think apologies are due to the inhabitants of Bern.

Thanks for a nice tough workout, Yorick — perfectly fair (in hindsight) and entertaining.

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Listener 4742: Short Seats by Yorick (and an answer short of something else too)

Posted by vaganslistener on 6 Jan 2023

Ouch! This was a tremendous puzzle, but I suspect I was not the only one finding that completing the very difficult offerings in the Magpie this month plus all else that Christmas brings had left me hoping for a gentler ride. Perhaps next week will bring some cheery festive fun that can be cracked within the duration of a chocolate éclair…

The title and preamble had been designed to give nothing away, so there was nothing to do except dive in and start putting in what words I could. The clues were good and fair, but no walkover, so that took some time. Why did it take me so long to realise that Daniel’s “successor” was HOSEA? 1S GET ROUND (“Persuade to buy all drinks”) brought a welcome smile once the penny dropped, as did the TEACAKE at 4Sto keep me going (“Roll with gloss photograph contains a piece lacking Ricoh’s finish”), and it was a surprise to find 19ECADFAEL “Taking cocaine with marijuana, US lawman recalled investigating herbalist”. I was pleased as well to discover that in 32W “slop” is an informal word for a CASSOCK, which I am sure I can work into vestry banter at the cathedral before too long.

But with so much going on the grid, the fill was slow. A few of the clashing squares started to come into focus, and I was misled for a while by the potential SOLO in the third square of the top row, before eventually I understood that we had a series of 4-letter capitals (“SHORT SEATS”), placed in a reasonable approximation to their geographical location. Very clever! And even cleverer when the penny finally dropped that choosing the right letter from them would create the three-letter codes of their relevant countries. Yorick must have been well pleased when what was a cool idea worked out so well, even if the resulting grid is a bit of a pot pourri. Thankfully there was a box at the bottom of the grid to remind me to enter four more 4-letter capitals before I rubbed out my working and lost the letters for ever. Confession time, though: I did, however, forget to HIGHLIGHT the codes, to round off a flurry of slips at the end of the year.

Whew! Back to wrapping presents and making sure my sermon and kit were in the bag for the Midnight Mass, and wondering if I will get a couple of quieter days before the family invasion begins. Oh no: an email has just announced that the proofs of a large book on Robert Grosseteste have arrived, to be returned by mid-January. Three cheers that I am just one of the team checking them, but nice timing, OUP! The seasonal tippling will have to wait a bit longer.

Big thanks to Yorick and best wishes for the New Year.

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